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The Forrest of Dean


Series Name
Mining Review 1st Year


Issue No.
Date Released
Dec 1947
Length of issue (in feet)
Stories in this Issue:
  1. 1The Forrest of Dean
  2. 2Shepherds from the mine
  3. 3Denby Washery


Story No. within this Issue
1 / 3
BFI Summary - The free miners of the Forest of Dean.
COI Commentary - The Royal Forrest of Dean is a national beauty spot - yet can boast a coal mining industry, worked by ancient privilege, since the time of the Romans.
The mining community is linked to Speech House (where mining disputes are heard) and by tradition to the Church and Castle of St. Briavels, in the centre of the forrest.
There is nothing spectacular about the mines themselves ... small and easy to work they are all private concerns ... usually run in partnership with a 5 day week and eight hour shifts.
High speed mechanisation would scarcely be welcome here ... and even the use of an engine to pull the tubs seems almost too modern for this setting.
The men who own and work the mines are called Free Miners ... They used to work iron ore as well, but now coal is produced. They are proud of the community to which they belong and are rightly jealous of their ancient privileges.
He should be born within the bounds of St. Briavel’s Castle, and should work for a year and a day in a forest mine ... then by Royal grant, he may start and work a shaft for himself ... this is traditional law.
Free Miners have had the right to work coal in the Forest for many hundreds of years ... in fact no records exist to show when they actually started ... but the right was confirmed by Edward I in 1300 and then later by an Act of Parliament.
And under the same Act, they still work the coal today.
The coal is too soft and dusty for ordinary household purposes... and most of it goes to the Gloucester Power Co. Output is surprisingly high in these small mines, yet their traditions have remained unchanged for centuries.
England; Gloucestershire; Forest of Dean
Written sources
The National Archives INF 6   /389 Used for synopsis
British Film Institute Databases
Hogenkamp, A. P., unpublished DPhil thesis   pxii.
Production Co.
Crown Film Unit
Jocelyn Jackson
John Legard
John Taylor
Maurice Denham
Max Anderson
Ministry of Fuel and Power

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